Archive for Jan 29, 2007

The refrigerator of the future

What can your refrigerator do for you? For most people these days the answer is simple, “it keeps things cold” and for some “it even dispenses ice and water.” The people at Whirlpool aim to change all of that. This fall they will begin shipped Centralpark-enabled refrigerators to the public. With Centralpark you will be able to have any number of custom features added to your kitchen’s most useful appliance.

Some of the features you can look forward to are interractive message boards, digital picture frames, satellite radio, CD/DVD players, and more. It doesn’t stop there either, you’ll even have the option of recharging cell phones and other devices as well. Oh, and did we mention that it keeps your food cold too?

No current word on what we’ll expect to pay for this media center meets refrigerator, but I’m sure it’ll be worth every penny. With one of these around the office, you can be sure that no one will be hanging around the water cooler anymore.

Whirlpool Centralpark Connection [via Gizmodo]

The key to safer data storage?

The key to safer data storage?

These days we seem to carry just about everything on our USB drives, from family photos to important client documents. While most of us wouldn't be too upset if the pictures of our recent family trip to see grandma got into the wrong hands, we might not be quite as apathetic about our client documents. There are a number of different methods of encrypting such files, but most require us to add yet another password to our daily lives.

A new product from Kanguru Solutions aims to make carrying around sensitive date a little easier. The Bio Slider is a USB drive that has a built in biometric scanner, so with one swipe of your finger, all of your data is unlocked. The Bio Slider starts at $100 for a 512MB and is offered in sizes up to 2GB. Now you'll never have to worry about those embarrasing pictures of your uncle Bruce being unleashed into the wild.

How to lock down your USB drive [via Crave]

USA to get some MAXX fun too

Ah, the MotoRazr MAXX: 3.6Mbps HSDPA, class 10 EDGE, sleek design… but what about a US release?  As Crave point out sadly, there’s no word on any American carrier supporting the handset.  And yet a flicker of hope emerges, courtesy of Howard Forums, with what appears to be some promotional material for the MotoRazr MAXX Ve coming soon on Verizon Wireless’ network.

With a presumed spec-list similar to the MAXX, albeit with US-friendly EVDO, you can expect a 2-megapixel camera and microSD slot.  Crave are also reporting support for VCast video and music, although not for the new V Cast TV service.

Howard Forum [via Crave]

Biped robot walker is learning to tread carefully

Here’s my terrible admission for the day: I’m not really all that bothered by Star Wars.  In fact, the only thing that interested me about the films was the cool Imperial tech, particularly the two- and four-legged walkers.  Well, Mike Smyth looked Darth-ward for design inspiration when it came to the appearance of his bipedal walking robot, as it bears a pretty good resemblance to a Star Wars AT-ST.

However, what’s really interesting about the project isn’t the physical design but Mike’s intent to have the biped learn how to walk by itself.  Rather than just rigging up a RC handset or even pre-programming it to avoid obstacles, he’s giving it the capability to respond to sensors in the feet so as not to fall down holes or crush Ewoks.


Another prototype Tablet PC

Oh to have the sort of friends Steve Paine does.  My inbox fills up with “funny” photos of dogs doing silly things, or round-robin messages of good will, whereas he gets pictures of prototype Tablet PCs.  Admittedly the latest is conspicuous for the absence of accompanying information, but if pictures speak a thousand words then I don’t have to write any more in the post anyway.

Judging by the look of the stylus I’m thinking passive digitiser, although others have pointed out what looks like a trackpoint on the lower right-hand side of the screen.  Anyone know anything more?


ModBook OS X Tablet video

The ModBook tablet running OS X on Apple hardware caught the imagination of quite a few people, who obviously thought they may as well have a stop-gap until Apple themselves decide to pull their finger out and release an official one, and now we have a video courtesy of Macworld’s Jonathan Seff to further tease us.

Taking us on a tour of the ports, slots and nooks of the machine, Jonathan then goes on to show how the ModBook handles pen-input via Apple’s InkWell.  Considering this has all been done without the might of the Apple development team, I’m all the more eager to see just what an official Mac-tablet could be capable of.

YouTube [via GottaBeMobile]

Up close & personal with the Digital Cowboy

It sounds a little like a cut scene from Brokeback Mountain, but the Digital Cowboy is in fact a webcam.  Now before you pelt me with rotten fruit and shout “why is a webcam newsworthy, you stupid goose?!” in my face, let me draw your violent attention to the 7x optical zoom strapped to the front of it.

That’s right, this is the ideal webcam for those people who a) like to look really closely at things far away, b) have small things they want to make look bigger when in video-conversations, or c) are allergic to WiFi and as such can’t sit close to their computer, but who want to video-converse anyway.

It’s a mere 1.3-megapixels, mind, so we’re not looking at something that will replace any high-quality SLR lenses you might have to hand, but for $81 what can you expect?


Sharp 812SH goes with every outfit

Motorola has got some stick in the past for bringing out innumerable versions of their product line in different colours, milking the appeal rather than spending the time making a new handset (possibly one with a UI that doesn’t cause reviewers to projectile vomit into the faces of children).  Well, Sharp appears to be going out of its way to avoid that kind of criticism, as its 812SH handset for Japanese operator Softbank is being launched in twenty different hues simultaneously.

Scourge of the indecisive, the Pantone 812SH  (seemingly named after the famous colour company)  comes complete with a 2-megapixel camera, 2.4-inch 260k colour LCD screen and 0.8-inch OLED external screen and a microSD slot.  It’s a 3G model and, since we’re talking Japan, also supports the FeliCa wireless payment system with face recognition security.


Nokia N95 breaks loose

Looks like the first Nokia N95 review units are hitting the desks of the gadget-faithful.  Darla Mack found hers to be a surprisingly effective way of tempering flu-symptoms, while Steve Garfield was well enough in comparison to shoot a video of the unboxing.  Not much beyond some teasing photos so far, so I guess we’ll have to wait a few days before finding out if the N95 is really good enough to push dreams of the iPhone out of peoples’ heads.

More photos after the cut.  I’m really looking forward to seeing just how integrated the GPS is with the rest of the phone; Nokia have been doing some great research into augmented reality and geo-tagging, and I’d like to think that at least a little of that might’ve slipped into the N95’s svelte body.


SlashGear Review: Samsung Z560 with HSDPA

Readers of my personal blog will know the stress I’ve had recently around moving house and trying to take my ADSL broadband connection with me. To cut a tedious story short, despite claims to the contrary I was without internet access for a little over a fortnight; now that might not sound like much, but to a dedicated net-addict like myself it put a serious dent in my day to day life.

Since my phone line was also waiting to be connected, that meant dial-up was a non-starter, and so as the withdrawal symptoms began to get worse (shaking hands, excess perspiration, a tendency to shout out phrases like “purge the cache!” and “dot com!”) I looked around desperately for a way to sate my need for the interweb. And then my twitching eye fell onto the Samsung SGH-Z560.

T-Mobile UK had sent me this unassuming clamshell a week or so back, it being one of the first models to support HSDPA on their network. Unfortunately its arrival had coincided with that of a Treo 750v, and the smartphone had gobbled up most of my attention (you can follow my path to push-email redemption in my Treo 750v review).


T-Mobile announce Ameo (HTC Athena) price

Where there’s a launch announcement then a price can’t be far behind, and T-Mobile certainly haven’t wasted much time after spilling the proverbial beans that they’re exclusively carrying the HTC Athena (or the T-Mobile Ameo as it will now be known).  In return for two years love and devotion (aka your standard 24-month cellphone contract) they’ll give you the Ameo for a mere €500 if you’re in Germany. 

The UK price is yet to be set, but assuming at least some degree of parity you’re looking at £330.  T-Mobile US is yet to say anything regarding a release on that side of the Atlantic, but $650 is a whole lot less than the $1,000+ people were threatening it’d cost.


Wireless charger meets luxury desk

These days it seems like you have chargers for just about everything, your mp3 player, your phone, PDA, and plenty of other devices that you have to keep track of. Herman Miller Inc. is working to eliminate that hassle. They have designed a desk with a system called eCoupled  from Fulton Innovation that can charge almost any portable device just by setting them on the desk.

The eCoupled system works by transferring power via a magnetic field. Therefor, once a device comes in contact with the field, it can begin charging. I know that it would be much easier for me to just set my phone on my desk, or depending on the size of the magnetic field, leave it in my holster and have it charge. There is currently no word on pricing or availability.

Desk of the future will charge electronic devices [Reuters]

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